Rosewater and Soda Bread – Marsha Mehran


More than a year has passed since Marjan, Bahar, and Layla, the beautiful Iranian Aminpour sisters, sought refuge in the quaint Irish town of Ballinacroagh. Opening the beguiling Babylon Café, they charmed the locals with their warm hearts and delectable Persian cuisine, bringing a saffron-scented spice to the once-sleepy village.

But when a young woman with a dark secret literally washes up on Clew Bay Beach, the sisters’ world is once again turned upside down. With pale skin and webbed hands, the girl is otherworldly, but her wounds tell a more earthly (and graver) story–one that sends the strict Catholic town into an uproar. The Aminpours rally around the newcomer, but each sister must also contend with her own transformation–Marjan tests her feelings for love with a dashing writer, Bahar takes on a new spiritual commitment with the help of Father Mahoney, and Layla matures into a young woman when she and her boyfriend, Malachy, step up their hot and heavy relationship.

Filled with mouthwatering recipes and enchanting details of life in Ireland, Rosewater and Soda Bread is infused with a lyrical warmth that radiates from the Aminpour family and their big-hearted Italian landlady, Estelle, to the whole of Ballinacroagh–and the world beyond.

My review

I purchased Rosewater and Soda Bread at a booksale about a year ago. I was at first attracted to the cover design and reading the blurb, I was expecting a heartfelt story.

Rosewater and Soda Bread revolves around three sisters who have escaped Iran and are living in Ireland. They run a cafe that is famous for Persian cuisine. The detailed descriptions of Persian delicacies made my mouth water. I could almost taste the dishes and breathe in the scent of bergamot tea. The recipes at the end of the book are an added bonus and lovely addition to the novel. I even hope to cook some of the meals!

I enjoyed reading about the quaint Irish town of Ballincrough, the Babylon cafe and authentic food, however, I felt that I needed more insight into the characters themselves. My favourite character was the mermaid, who I found very intriguing. I did feel left wanting to know more about her and the Irish legends alluded to. For me, the characterisation was weak and I craved to know more about the Aminpour sisters too, who had experienced such turmoil prior to their arrival in Ireland. Admittedly, I have not read Pomegranate Soup, the prequel to Rosewater and Soda Bread. I wonder if this would have given me the depth I needed to further understand their background.

Overall, it was a nice, light read, but not the memorable and heartwarming story I expected.


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